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Oct 7, 2016 12:32 PM

New England town considers changing Columbus Day to 'Indigenous People's Day'

HARTFORD, Vt. — Christopher Columbus is celebrated each year across the U.S. for his efforts in "discovering" the Americas, but a recent movement has placed judgement on Columbus and veered the focus towards respect given to the Indigenous people who were here well before him.

The town of Hartford, Vermont has taken to the idea of taking some of the credit away from Christopher Columbus, and placing it in the hands of Native Americans by renaming his holiday "Indigenous People's Day." This motion first began in 1992 in Berkeley, California, where they are celebrating their 24th annual Indigenous People's Day this year.

The notion ultimately lies in the hands of the State of Vermont, rather than the town themselves, Town Planner Leo Pullar said. Pullar emphasized that this notion is still in the very early stages of development but that he has started to look into it's importance around the nation and in his town.

Pullar says the idea originated in a town meeting when they were discussing upcoming holiday schedules for the work force. Columbus Day came up in the conversation, igniting conversation among staff.

It is important to understand that the notion has not been approved in any way. Hartford will be "officially" celebrating Columbus Day this year, but Pullar hopes that recent exposure to the decision will cause people to pause and recognize the indigenous people and their history. He also recognized the four Native American tribes established in Vermont.

After about a year of discussions and meetings the town of Cambridge, Mass. recently made the change from Columbus Day to Indigenous People's Day as of May 26 after a unanimous vote from the city council. Pullar acknowledged this change and explained that he will carefully look into this issue and will be careful not to rush a decision.

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